Fisheries and Oceans Canada has designated the Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area (MPA) to help safeguard the area’s unique marine environment. The establishment of this new MPA is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to conserving 10% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2020.
Last year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada appointed an independent National Advisory Panel to consult with Canadians about marine protection standards. Following extensive consultations across the country, the Panel delivered its report to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, on September 26, 2018. Based on the recommendations by the Panel, the Government of Canada has adopted a new approach to marine conservation, including protection standards to strengthen the conservation of our oceans.
Over the past 50 years, the world’s wildlife populations have declined by 60%. In Canada, 521 species have been identified as being at risk under the Species at Risk Act and the list is growing. Recent assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) for Chinook salmon from the Fraser River system have found Chinook are also in danger of disappearing from Canada.
Canada’s coasts are home to productive ecosystems that support the livelihoods of Indigenous and coastal communities. Under the Oceans Protection Plan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will bring together top researchers from across the country and around the world to increase our understanding of how oil spills behave, how best to contain them and clean them up, and how to minimize their environmental impacts.
The Government of Canada is committed to taking action to protect endangered marine mammals, including three priority species: the Southern Resident Killer Whale, the North Atlantic Right Whale and the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga. In the Whale Science for Tomorrow initiative, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada are partnering to provide $2.9 million in funding to Canadian universities for scientific research on these whale populations, strengthening knowledge to support decision-making, conservation and recovery efforts. This initiative will draw on the knowledge and experience of marine mammal experts and support three major research projects at Dalhousie University, the University of British Columbia and the Université du Québec à Montréal. This investment will support approximately 24 jobs in the next two to four years.
Canada’s coastal areas are vital to the livelihood of countless Indigenous and coastal communities. They are home to culturally and economically important fisheries, attract tourism and recreation, and allow the import and export of goods through responsible shipping. Under the Oceans Protection Plan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with Indigenous and coastal communities, in addition to regional stakeholders, to develop and implement a Coastal Environmental Baseline Program.
On March 14, 2019, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced the establishment of eight new marine refuges to protect nine newly discovered glass sponge reefs.